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PlayStation 2 exports to be restricted – again

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Exports of Sony's PlayStation 2 console have been officially restricted by Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), the Sunday Telegraph reported this weekend. Not that Sony gives a hoot. With plans for the US and European PlayStation 2 roll-outs well in advance, the last thing the company is keen to encourage is shipments of Japanese consoles to either territory. MITI's problem with the PlayStation 2 is that its graphics chip is sufficiently powerful to control missiles equipped with terrain reading navigation systems. To prevent the console falling into the hands of Saddam, Qaddafi et al, MITI has said that no one can take more than two PlayStation 2s out of Japan. Register readers with very long memories indeed will recall similar concerns being raised over Sir Clive Sinclair's ZX-81. The fear then was that the sneaky Sovs would try to buy heaps of ZX-81s for their Zilog Z80-A CPUs and might 1KB RAM to upgrade their nuclear missile guidance systems. To the suggestion that Sony might like to limit the power of its console to prevent such a ZX-81 style misuse, a company spokesman said today: "We need PlayStation2 to remain competitive for the next five years and given the rapid developments in technology, we could not afford to compromise." You don't say... What we say is that this is all clearly a Sony publicity stunt, not dissimilar to Apple's Power Mac G4 ad campaign that said that the box, with its 1Gflop performance and consequent 'supercomputer' status, was now considered a weapon by the US government. Well, if you hit someone over the head with it, we suppose it is, but the dear old G4 is really no more dangerous than a cruise missile equipped with a PlayStation 2 (and, presumably, terrain maps cribbed from Ridge Racer 4). It's noteworthy that the Japanese government has already said that exporting the PlayStation 2 might be illegal, since its Memory Card contains sufficiently powerful encryption technology. You'll notice that when this far less sexy story broke, Sony barely raised a whisper. It's not clear whether the current restriction is also a result of the MC issue or whether it' separate. ® Related Story Unauthorised PlayStation 2 exports illegal

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